Whether he is recording music, doing a podcast or on reality television – Joe Budden has made himself out to be the most “open book” of a rapper today.
Budden has had a way of keeping listeners engaged with his struggles through addiction, depression and his definition of “love.” His formula throws many off, and his sound is not one which mainstream hip hop gravitates to, but even the most casual hip hop fan can admire the lyrical prowess that Budden possesses. “All Love Lost” is the third installment of Budden’s “Love Lost” series following the album “No Love Lost” and the EP “Some Love Lost.”
Joe Budden’s bread and butter is how he can detail turmoil in a relationship and he sticks to that formula on the album’s lead single “Broke.” Because Budden has been very public throughout his career when it comes to the women in his life, every song about a female leaves the listeners wondering who it could be that he’s talking about. As entertaining as “Broke” is, it seems more like a song that was made to be the single then to actually fit in causing it to stick out of the bunch.
The album opens with Joe Budden and frequent R&B collaborator, Emanny on “All Love Lost” and it details the sound which provides the canvas for the album. Pianos, strings and guitars all played in dramatic sequences while Budden is seemingly on cruise control, riding the track at his own pace, never rushing through his story.
It’s here that Budden speaks on his frustrations with his fan base, who didn’t respond well to his last album which had features from more mainstream artists like Wiz Khalifa and French Montana. The meaning of the album is true in it’s intro as Budden seems to have lost faith in the idea of love, whether it be within the music industry, women or love for himself.
“Playing Our Part” gives us insight to how Budden deals with this on again/ off again relationships. At the end Budden comes to the realization that he has been involved with the same kind of self-indulgent personalities, but he can’t turn away from temptation:
“Nowadays they all the same / Enhanced body parts, smaller brains.
They don’t get a hi in fact/ Mums the word, baby girl, it’s now quiet for that/ If you got nothin’ to offer, sorry Mrs. Jackson, gotta off ya/a
But as soon as you leave ’em alone /It’s when they send that same text to the phone (like ‘what’s up’).”
“Love, I’m Good” is a track that stands out as one of the more emotional tracks as Joe speaks on his frustrations with hip hop, Tahiry (we assume) and his son. He speaks on hip hop as a girl who has changed and fallen prey to the world around her (“now I see her with Young Thug and Future, like what did you n*gg@s do to her?”). He still has bars for days when it comes to Tahiry (“You threaten every girl I’m with, that just confuses me/Say you want kids real soon, now that’s abuse to me/And I just write about it in song, you’re like a muse to me”).
The song’s final verse is one that tugs at the heartstrings though, as he talks about his son, who at this point in his life looks at his father with discontent. Budden has spoken about custody battles for his son before and continues here and even tries to relate to his son : “I was you 20 years ago when pop popped up/But nothin’ like you, sad how life’ll recycle a cycle/ You missin’ intel only a dad can give/
Can’t expect you to understand, this doesn’t matter to a kid. . .”
A disappointing track was “Make it Through the Night.” It’s disappointing because it features a very uninspiring verse from Jadakiss, who is usually on-point when it comes to his guest features. . . The track is nothing new on a general music level either as it’s just one of those “hopefully I’ll get outta the hood” tracks.
“Immortal” wastes a strong hook which rides over an uneventful beat, produced by Boi-1da and Vinvyl. Joe also blatantly uses the same very distinct flow that is used on the album’s single “Broke.” The funny thing about “Immortal” is that although the song itself is uninspiring – this is the Joe Budden sound.
Budden can sometimes just ramble from one topic to another so effortlessly, the listener at times can get lost in the whirlwind of emotions and topics being thrown at them in a sometimes unorganized fashion.
“Unnecessary Pain” is a gem on the album, that may get lost in the shuffle. Here, Budden details how he is so ruined inside that he knows that any female who comes in contact with him will most likely get hurt: “I see your life from afar and something’s off with it/It’s my fault and shit, I shoulda never altered it/I sold a dream when you couldn’t have known the cost of it/Knew my love came with a pain and I still offered it.” Budden goes off on another tangent again, but this time it is seamless and an easy transition as he looks at his mortality in music.
Being that he is one of those that puts out emotional LP, after emotional LP it seems to be draining him, but at the same time, he does it because it’s what his fans want: “And to the fans that I once gave my life for . . . I gotta tell you that there’s not much left in me / Yeah and not that it’s growin’ old/ But years of bearin’ my soul is takin’ it’s toll. ..”
“Man Down” and “Slaughtermouse” display a slightly more aggressive Joe Budden. “Man Down” is Budden firing shots at people who are praying for him to fail, or even worse. Budden makes a point in saying how he has been tried in every direction but he’s still around and knows he’s garnered hate from all different people from different walks of life because of the life he displays and accusations laid out before the public. . . “I’ve been more than a leader, even with my back to the wall/Thought I was finished forever when I was practicin’ falls/Now you second guessin’ yourself, you gotta ask what you saw/They fishin’, wishin’ it’s fiction, but ain’t no actin’ at all.”
“Slaughtermouse” was leaked online before the album was released and most took it as a shot to Eminem for not helping elevate the status of Slaughterhouse – the four man rap group comprised of Budden, Joell Ortiz, Crooked-I and Royce, which is on Eminem’s Shady Records. It was far from a shot at Eminem, it was more praise to someone he respects.
In that respect Budden details that they barely know each other although they’ve been through similar misfortunes in life. Once again Joe’s vulnerability is displayed: “But different times, I was feelin’ like the odd man out/Like I should leave, they’d be better with the odd man out/Like when I wasn’t on that intro, I felt a little weird/ But that was for the team, so I didn’t really care. . .”
One wouldn’t be wrong in calling Joe Budden one of, or even the most, emotional rapper in hip hop. In serious circles, you won’t even get much argument that he is one of the game’s best lyricist either. Joe is in a weird spot though. He has a loyal fan base who wants the “emo” music, which he has mastered the delivery of, but it also has him in his own bubble as an artist.
All he knows, is how to air out his dirty laundry in public, and he does it brilliantly. He just needs to find different ways to do it, so it doesn’t sound like the same story, coming from the same place every time.
Rating: 7 out of 10